Recently I got out my old Joy of Cooking and opened it up to the recipe for Mulligatawny Soup. It had been one of my favorites in the past, and I had a hankering for it. But when, after several hours of chopping, dicing, and simmering, I sat down to a bowl of the soup, I was unpleasantly surprised. Too much curry! Either my taste buds had changed, or my curry powder was far stronger than what I had used previously.
Unpleasant surprises can happen in the illustration world as well. I was recently on a very tight deadline, concocting a small illustration. I started out, as I often do, with an India ink line drawing. But when I began to add my watercolor washes, the black ink lifted slightly and bled into the color, adding an unplanned somber cast to the image. Either I had not let the ink dry long enough; or the ink was too old (it does contain shellac, and deteriorates over time.)
There are often ways, in both cooking and art, to salvage an unfortunate situation. For the Mulligatawny, I added more chicken broth, diced chicken, and rice to the pot. This diluted the curry to a manageable level. And for the illustration? It's difficult to brighten subdued colors, at least in watercolor washes. And I didn’t have time to purchase new ink, or re-do the art. But artists do also have the option of changing their minds. I realized that the muted colors and blurred ink lines of my piece were just fine. Quite nice, in fact. Fortunately, consumers of both soup and picture were happy with my results.